Big Sister is intelligent, relevant, charmingly performed—and a lot less satisfying than you’d expect.

Playwright Deborah Vogt explores her relationship with her sister Naomi, who lost 75 pounds as an adult. Naomi performs the solo show, which is written in her voice, so she speaks the words that Deborah has put in her mouth. She also breaks out to address the audience as her “real self”—except, of course, those breakouts are also scripted.

At its most obvious, Big Sister is about fat shaming—social rejection and insults. But this text plays variations on the theme: Naomi is aware of the social privilege that her sleeker profile affords and, after a lifetime of being defiantly big, she finds herself uncomfortably invested in her normative beauty.

Most intriguingly, Big Sisterconsiders how we construct our identities in reaction to those around us, including our siblings, and by filling the spaces they leave vacant.

But the structural and tonal homogeneity of Big Sister undermine it. Deborah and Naomi’s sardonic voices are confusingly similar. And there’s no central story, so there are no clear stakes and the accumulation that exists feels abstract.

I’d much rather see the issues of Big Sisterexplored through a dynamic relationship, a real two-hander, rather than in this monologue, which feels too much like an essay.

Remaining performances at the Revue Stage on September 8 (1 p.m.), 9 (9 p.m.), 13 (6:45 p.m.), 15 (5:45 p.m.), and 16 (1:45 p.m.) > Colin Thomas


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About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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